1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hit

HIT, a town of Asiatic Turkey, in the vilayet of Bagdad, on the west bank of the Euphrates, 70 m. W.N.W. of Bagdad, in 33° 38′ 8″ N., 42° 52′ 15″ E. It is picturesquely situated on a line of hills, partly natural, but in large part certainly artificial, the accumulation of centuries of former habitation, from 30 to 100 ft. in height, bordering the river. The houses are built of field stones and mud. A striking feature of the town is a lofty and well-proportioned minaret, which leans quite perceptibly. Behind and around Hit is an extensive but utterly barren plain, through which flow several streams of bitter water, coming from mineral springs. Directly behind the town are two bitumen springs, one cold and one hot, within 30 ft. of one another. The gypsum cliffs on the edge of the plain, and the rocks which crop out here and there in the plain, are full of seams of bitumen, and the whole place is redolent of sulphuretted hydrogen. Across the river there are naphtha springs. Indeed, the entire region is one possessing great potential wealth in mineral oils and the like. Hit, with its fringe of palms, is like an oasis in the desert occasioned by the outcrop of these deposits. From time immemorial it has been the chief source of supply of bitumen for Babylonia, the prosperity of the town depending always upon its bitumen fountains, which are still the property of the government, but are rented out to any one who wishes to use them. There is also a shipyard at Hit, where the characteristic Babylonian boats are still made, smeared within and without with bitumen. Hit is the head of navigation on the Euphrates. It is also the point from which the camel-post starts across the desert to Damascus. About 8 m. inland from Hit, on a bitter stream, lies the small town of Kubeitha. Hit is mentioned, under the name of Ist, in the Karnak inscription as paying tribute to Tethmosis (Thothmes) III. In the Bible (Ezra viii. 15) it is called Ahava; the original Babylonian name seems to have been Ihi, which becomes in the Talmud Ihidakira, in Ptolemy Ιδικάρα, and in Zosimus and Ammianus Δακίρα and Diacira.

See Geo. Rawlinson’s Herodotus, i. 179, and note by H. C. Rawlinson; J. P. Peters, Nippur (1897); H. V. Geere, By Nile and Euphrates (1904).  (J. P. Pe.)